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What Apple Airport do I need for Streaming Apple Music?

telemike

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I'm not sure what version of Airport I need so I can stream lossless Apple music from my iPhone to the Airpot and then use optical out to my Rotel A14 integrated amp. I only want to use if for Airplay of music to my amp.
 

Freighter

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I think this may be the right one? Apple Airport Express A1392 2nd Generation
That's right! However it doesn't have a full sized optical (toslink) input. You'll need a mini dislink adapter to plug the cable into the 3.5mm digital input in the back.
 
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telemike

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That's right! However it doesn't have a full sized optical (toslink) input. You'll need a mini dislink adapter to plug the cable into the 3.5mm digital input in the back.


Thanks. Have the cable. Found airport 1392 on ebay
 

BitPerfect_

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There is a difference, depending on what you are looking for. There are a lot of discussions on this.

Apple Music via AirPlay 1 will send ALAC 16/44.1 lossless and lossy AAC via AirPlay 2 but according to some late discussions that I’ve found on roon forum, this it looks like it’s about to be changed (we all hope that).

Search on the internet for the thread called Apple Music High Res (hope that I’m not violating the ASR forum rules). Some users claim that sent via AirPlay 2, 24/192 lossless files (not via Apple Music but it’s a huge step) . I guess that AirPlay 2 was updated.

A1264 - AirPlay 1
A1392 - AirPlay 2


Please find Models section. Cheers
 
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gags11

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I think this may be the right one? Apple Airport Express A1392 2nd Generation
I bought one of these and can stream Airplay2. Works like a charm.
Belkin also just came up with an Airplay streamer, which also works. However, I have noticed that Belkin will always output 48Khz even if the lossless stream was 44.1Khz, which tells me to its upsampled somewhere. Airport Express, always does 44.1Khz regardless.

Interestingly, a lot of the content that is available in Hi-Res on Apple Music, is going to be 24bit 48Khz when choosing the lower grade lossless, not Hi-Res. In this case, the Airport will be downsampling these to 44.1Khz, while Belkin will be 48Khz. . Not sure why, but I have both and have tested both. here is the link to Belkin.

 

Freighter

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I bought one of these and can stream Airplay2. Works like a charm.
Belkin also just came up with an Airplay streamer, which also works. However, I have noticed that Belkin will always output 48Khz even if the lossless stream was 44.1Khz, which tells me to its upsampled somewhere. Airport Express, always does 44.1Khz regardless.

Interestingly, a lot of the content that is available in Hi-Res on Apple Music, is going to be 24bit 48Khz when choosing the lower grade lossless, not Hi-Res. In this case, the Airport will be downsampling these to 44.1Khz, while Belkin will be 48Khz. . Not sure why, but I have both and have tested both. here is the link to Belkin.

Thanks for the info! Which one do you like better A) from a usability standpoint (responsiveness when air playing, reliability, connection issues?) and B) do you hear a difference between the two?
 

gags11

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Thanks for the info! Which one do you like better A) from a usability standpoint (responsiveness when air playing, reliability, connection issues?) and B) do you hear a difference between the two?

I do not think I can hear a difference. Both work the same. Belkin has a much smaller footprint, while Airport Express can also work like a router or Wi-Fi extender.
 

BitPerfect_

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@gags11, would you please share with me, using the iPhone/iPad (Apple Music) > AirPlay > AirPort Express A1392 > Toslink , we are able to change the volume in Apple Music or it's fixed at maximum ?
In this case, the Airport will be downsampling these to 44.1Khz, while Belkin will be 48Khz.
Using AirPort express A1392, latest firmware update to AirPlay 2, Apple Music in the above setup will be delivered 16 or 24-bit/44.1 kHz?
Thanks,
 

tmtomh

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Just as an FYI, Belkin makes a $99 device that's basically a one-to-one replacement for the discontinued Apple Airport Express:


Tiny box, analog/optical digital mini-jack, AirPlay2 compatible, detectable and set-up-able via the iOS Home app. Only downside for legacy users is that it's not configurable via Airport Utility. But any recent Mac or iPhone will have the free Apple Home app on it I believe, so no big deal.
 

BitPerfect_

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Indeed, I was so excited too reading about Belkin Connect. The point is that (in my case at least) will output 16/48 not 16/44.1 which makes me think that the signal will be altered. At that price I prefer AirPort Express A1264 which is AirPlay 1 (16/44.1) or a firmware upgraded A1392 which could be AirPlay 2 (ALAC also as far as I’ve read lately, not lossy anymore) not so sure about the bitrate with the latest firmware.
 

gags11

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@gags11, would you please share with me, using the iPhone/iPad (Apple Music) > AirPlay > AirPort Express A1392 > Toslink , we are able to change the volume in Apple Music or it's fixed at maximum ?

Using AirPort express A1392, latest firmware update to AirPlay 2, Apple Music in the above setup will be delivered 16 or 24-bit/44.1 kHz?
Thanks,
1. To answer your 1st question, volume is adjusted in Apple Music on your iOS device. Same for the Belkin device. One thing I have noted is there is a slight delay or lag adjusting the volume with Airplay2 AirPort and Belkin. With airplay1 there is no lag.

2. It is 16bit 44.1kHz

3. This may be a naive observation, but it seems Airplay 1 streams directly from iPhone/iPad to Airplay receiver. Airplay2 streams from Apple Music server and not from the iOS device. I had times where connection between the iPhone and Belkin or AirPort was lost, but the music still streams, confirming direct stream from server itself.
 
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BitPerfect_

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Thanks, good to know. Anyway, as far as I understand, A1392 could be used with AirPlay 1 or 2 (updating the firmware) and if something goes wrong, the firmware could be rolled back to AirPlay 1, is that right?
 

Freighter

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1. To answer your 1st question, volume is adjusted in Apple Music on your iOS device. Same for the Belkin device. One thing I have noted is there is a slight delay or lag adjusting the volume with Airplay2 AirPort and Belkin. With airplay1 there is no lag.

2. It is 16bit 44.1kHz

3. This may be a naive observation, but it seems Airplay 1 streams directly from iPhone/iPad to Airplay receiver. Airplay2 streams from Apple Music server and not from the iOS device. I had times where connection between the iPhone and Belkin or AirPort was lost, but the music still streams, confirming direct stream from server itself.
Regarding point 3. I also drew this conclusion (Airplay2 streams from the Apple Music servers, similar to how chrome cast works) however after some testing I came to the conclusion that this is incorrect. I also tested turning off WiFi and noticed that the stream kept going - however, it seems like AirPlay2 simply has quite a large buffer and so keeps playing for quite a long time. After some more testing, I realized that after a while the stream WILL cut out, just like it does on Airplay1. I drew the conclusion that AirPlay2 direct streams just like AirPlay1, but that it has a larger buffer so that it feels more stable, responsive and it doesn’t immediately start stuttering if there’s some network congestion.
 
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telemike

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Got my Airport in and connected with optical cable to my Rotel A14.
 
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telemike

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I haven't noticed any crackling or drop-outs like I read in some other posts. I am on latest firmware. My Rotel A14's DAC works just fine with the A1392 AirPort
 

BitPerfect_

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A14 display any info regarding the sample rate and bits if you play for example a 24/192 song from Apple Music via iPhone/iPad > Airport Express > Optical out > A14? Thanks,
 
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telemike

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A14 display any info regarding the sample rate and bits if you play for example a 24/192 song from Apple Music via iPhone/iPad > Airport Express > Optical out > A14? Thanks,

It displays "FREQ: 44.1Khz" From what I've read, AirPlay2 is 16 bit 44.1Khz lossless. I am using the Lossless setting in Apple Music on my iPhone. A14 DAC via Optical:

COAX/OPTICAL DIGITAL INPUT SIGNALS
LPCM (Up to 24-bit/192kHz)

Found this instrumented test: https://www.kenrockwell.com/apple/airport-express-audio-quality-2014.htm
 

BitPerfect_

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The above test @ kenrockwell page is made using iTunes via MAC Pro. According to this post, using macOS, AirPlay 2 will always be lossless.
On the other hand, if we are using iOS, iPadOS / tvOS / HomePodOS, AirPlay2 will use lossy compression and 16/44.1 also could be lossy AAC as far as I've read.

I recognize that I'm so confused about this AirPlay 2 thing, that's why I am keep asking to put things together.
In my case for example, Yamaha WXC-50 which is using AirPlay 1, should be lossless 16/44.1 (I am using iOS/iPadOS) but my DAC shows 16/48 not 44.1 and at this point I don't know what to believe, not so sure if it's lossless or lossy.

A14 DAC via Optical: LPCM (Up to 24-bit/192kHz)
These are the parameters of the A14 DAC (it can handle up to 24/192), this not necessarily the sample rate and bits of the signal received from AirPort Optical output.
 
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